Ethnographic fragments #9 (signs of the times): Do what you will, Jenny Holzer, Lorde, and Beyonce

Signs of the times




I am Muslim, register me.

I am Mexican, deport me.

I am African American, imprison me.

I am LGBT, refuse to serve me.

I am poor, blame me.

I am elderly, privatize me.

I am woman, defund me.

I am homeless, ignore me.

I am disabled, bully me.

I am sick, uninsure me.

I am indigenous, pollute me.

I am a veteran, voucher me.

I am an American, lie to me.



Rejoice! Our times are intolerable. Take coverage for the worst is a harbinger of the best. Only dire circumstance can precipitate the overthrow of oppressors. The old and corrupt must be laid to waste before the just can triumph. Contradiction will be heightened. The reckoning will be hastened by the staging of seed disturbances. The apocalypse will blossom.


“Lorde’s message comes amid reports that she declined to perform at this year’s Grammys because the show’s organizers refused to offer her a solo performance, as they did the other, male Album of the Year nominees. She also notably skipped the red carpet.”


beyonce-formation-lyricsImage from Randi Bryant, Beyonce’s Letter to You about “Formation,” at Beatnik24

Dozens of artists came to the Grammys wearing white roses in solidarity with Time’s Up and sexual misconduct victims. But that spirit of female empowerment wasn’t reflected in this year’s winners, nor in remarks made by Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, who suggested that if women wish to collect more golden gramophones moving forward, they need to double down on their efforts.

“I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls — who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, who want to be producers, who want to be part of the industry on an executive level — to step up, because I think they would be welcome,” Portnow told journalists backstage after the show.

Step up, Neil? Creativity in their hearts and their souls, Neil?  Where were you in 2015 when Beck’s “Morning Phase” won Album of the Year ahead of Beyonce’s “Beyonce” and in 2017 when Adele’s “25” won Album of the Year ahead of Beyonce’s “Lemonade“?

Adele herself said on stage: “I can’t possibly accept this award. And I’m very humbled and I’m very grateful and gracious. But my artist of my life is Beyoncé. And this album to me, the “Lemonade” album, is just so monumental. Beyoncé, it’s so monumental. And so well thought out, and so beautiful and soul-baring and we all got to see another side to you that you don’t always let us see. And we appreciate that. And all us artists here adore you. You are our light.”



trump shithole projection

Trump International Hotel, Washington D.C.  The artist was Robin Bell, but the inspiration comes from Jenny Holzer.



Jenny Holzer, projection, Washington, D.C., 2004


The English surrealist and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings explained the intellectual project of his book Pandaemonium as to “present, not describe or analyse” the “imaginative history of the Industrial Revolution … by means of what I call Images.  These are quotations from writings of the period in question … which either in the writing or in the nature of the matter itself or both have revolutionary and symbolic and illuminatory quality.  I mean that they contain in little a whole world—they are the knots in a great net of tangled time and space—the moments at which the situation of humanity is clear—even if only for the flash time of the photographer or the lighting.  

These “snippets” are intended to function in the same way.  Click on the headings to go to the original articles, which are mostly from the mainstream aka fake news media.

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